Extra-time matches in the higher echelons of basketball can be perceived in two ways in trying to make sense from them after the euphoria has died down.
One deduction is both teams fought tooth and nail so five more minutes were required to separate them. The other is sides serious about making the playoffs don't ever let games stretch that far — they get the business done in regulation time.
Like it or not, the Zico Coronel-coached Taylor Corporation Hawks are still sending a lot of mixed messages on whether they have a burning desire to knuckle down to the task of securing a Final Four berth of the Sal's Pizza National Basketball League in early August.
The fifth-placed Hawke's Bay franchise team succumbed 90-84 in extra time to the Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs, after the sides were locked 83-83 in regulation time, at the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Napier on Saturday.
"Good teams never let things get that far. We should have never been in that hole in the first place," said dejected American import Jamie Skeen, who had put on a bravely smiling face to sign autographs for the arena faithful.
Skeen, who had chalked up another double-double, said the Hawks came up a little short.
It didn't help they were missing a couple of players, notably Australian import centre Angus Brandt attending a Boomers camp across the ditch, but Skeen echoed the sentiments of teammate Dion Prewster that that wasn't going to be tabled as an exhibit for leniency in the court of excuses.
"We haven't been playing as well as we're capable," said the 2.04m player in his rookie season for the Jarrod Kenny-captained Hawks.
What frustrated the Hawks even more was that they had scrimmaged well in the build up to the game.
Skeen juxtaposed the game with lapses against 2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers the previous Saturday despite winning.
"For me, I just think we didn't play well at all. I'm disappointed in my play as well," said the 30-year-old power forward from Charlottesville.
Skeen said the players had "beat up on each other all week" and then come match day their muscle memory had deserted them.
The fans could be excused for thinking the Alonzo Burton-skippered Airs had crashed the hosts' party, bullied the Hawks in the driving lanes and walked away with the spoils.
Prewster and Skeen had measured up but it seemed the knuckle dusters had remained in their pockets in an at-times tempestuous affair.
The American said the raising of the physicality stakes by Taranaki counterparts Roger Woods, Javonte Douglas and fouled-out Xavier Smith didn't catch the Hawks on the hop at all.
"Our coaches did a really good job on preparing us for them so it didn't catch us by surprise at all but we didn't play as well as we should have."
Skeen said the Hawks coaches had done everything conceivable in the lead up to the game, the fans had turned out to lend vociferous support but the players hadn't turned up at the PG Arena.
He brushed off his 18 points and 16 collects, mostly off the defensive boards, as a given considering he had emulated the feat of Kenny in playing every minute of the game.
"I expect that if I have to play a whole game I should have a double-double ... I should have more than what I did so I just didn't play well and the team didn't play well."
Skeen said "ticking boxes" against teams languishing on the ladder was a dangerous exercise because they were all professional outfits and deserved that respect.
He was hoping his teammates hadn't just rolled up at PG Arena, expecting to win.
Asked what the Hawks could have differently, Skeen felt they had started sluggishly in two consecutive matches and that was unacceptable.
"We have to come out and hit teams in the mouth from the beginning, especially teams at the bottom, because we need to show them we're a better team and today we didn't do that."
It was sin, he said, to claim the lead and then let Taranaki wrench it right back.
"They [Airs] seemed to have more confidence as the game went on so hats off to the Mountainairs, man, because you can't take anything away from them."
He singled out Douglas and guard Burton, of Napier, for leading their pack with some mongrel.
The victory for the former St John's College pupil was an ideal cause for his father, Willie Burton, the 2006 NBL title-winning power forward, to celebrate his 56th birthday yesterday.
The Hawks, back to a 50 per cent win/loss ratio, have a six-point gulf over the Airs in sixth place but fourth-placed Wheeler Motor Canterbury Rams have established a two-point buffer above them.
A mainly home stretch of games against teams below them has its advantages but the Hawks can't afford to keep slipping up, especially if the Rams keep drifting upwards.
Result (Hawks first): Taylor Hawks 84 (Dion Prewster 19pts; Jamie Skeen 18pts, 16 reb; Jarrod Kenny 18pts, 9 reb, 7 asts; Ethan Rusbatch 12pts) Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs 90 (Alonzo Burton 26pts, 7 reb; Javonte Douglas 25pts, 8 reb; Roger Woods 16pts, 7 reb; Xavier Smith 11pts; Houston O'Riley 10pts, 7 asts).
Quarters: 1st 17-19. 2nd 34-33 (17-14). 3rd 57-50 (18-14). 4th 83-83 (18-23).
ET: 84-90 (11-17).